New Discovery Signals Rapid Decay in Antarctic Glacier

New Discovery Signals Rapid Decay in Antarctic Glacier

A team of researchers discovered that huge space is rapidly forming under West Antarctica, a region that is quite big, on par with nearly 66% of the surface that is occupied by Manhattan.

NASA believes the cavity is big enough to have contained 14billion tons of ice, most of which melted only in the last three years.

If the entire glacier would melt the level of the sea would rise by approximately 2 feet or 65 centimeters. Scientists expected to find some relatively small gaps between the glacier and bedrock, but were unsettled by the 1,000-foot deep cavity the mission revealed.

Crevasses are seen in the Thwaites glacier on October 16, 2012.

Bute size and explosive growth rate of the newfound hole surprised them.

"Thanks to a new generation of satellites, we can finally see the detail".

The agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory used ice-penetrating radar to explore the area beneath the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, often called "one of the world's most risky glaciers" because its melting could significantly contribute to sea level rise. Researchers combined the NASA data with data from Italian and German spaceborne synthetic aperture radars.

"[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting", said Pietro Milillo, a NASA researcher and study lead author.

The end of the glacier, where the cavity has been formed, is particularly sensitive, because of warmer sea encroachment of water to the ice and it can melt from below. The discoveries feature the requirement for point by point perceptions of Antarctic glaciers' undersides in figuring how fast global sea levels will ascend because of environmental change.

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About the extent of Florida, Thwaites Glacier is as of now in charge of around 4 percent of worldwide ocean level ascent. It is thought that the water that comes from Thwaites represents up to 5% of the seal level rise that is now taking place around the earth.

NASA reported that Thwaites Glacier is now responsible for approximately 4 percent of global sea level rise.

Any glacier melt is another sign of global warming.

It's feared the melting of "the world's most unsafe glacier" could cause catastrophic flooding across the planet.

For Thwaites, "We are discovering different mechanisms of retreat", Millilo said.

There's no way to monitor Antarctic glaciers from ground level over the long term.

"The researchers on the current study hope that these new results will help inform that team's work", the news portal continued.

"Such data is essential for field parties to focus on areas where the action is, because the grounding line is retreating rapidly with complex spatial patterns", Milillo said.

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